Elliot Street Fire 1886


Hydropath Engine Company Firemen

Leather Bucket, Voice Amplifier, Nozzle

Photograph By Caleb L. Howe

---Fire was discovered about half past seven o'clock last evening in the barn on Elliot Street owned by Mrs Alfred Simonds and adjoining the ell of her house. The blaze was first seen through a window in the southwest corner of the loft, and within a very few minutes the whole building was enveloped in flames.

People rushed in and got out the wagons, but could not save two horses that were in the stable, because pieces of fire that were dropping from above made it almost certain death to stay inside.

Phoenix hose attached to the hydrant and got a stream of water to playing on the barn promptly, but the steamer companies underwent a number of annoying delays, which give the opponents of the paid department system material for argument. First several minutes were lost in getting the horses, then one of them acted so badly that it required half a dozen men to hitch him in.

Then there was a misunderstanding among the men about what the by-laws required with references to the other engine. Engineer Howe says that they should all have turned in to help the steamer that wasn't rigged for the horses. But from lack of training under the new system this wasn't done and five men and three boys started out with No 3, and got it there and got water on before No 4 did with its trouble with the horses.

The "heater" has not been in use this summer, having been discontinued on account of expense, and with a peculiarly dead and damp atmosphere some 5 minutes were lost before steam could be got up. So with it all it was 17 1 2 minutes after the alarm before they got the first stream on.

The fact that there was but faint wind, and that everything was wet from the recent rains, saved any evil consequences from the delay, but under other circumstances that portion of the street would almost inevitably have been swept.

The barn, which was perhaps worth $250, was an entire loss as was a woodshed in the rear belonging to Morris Bowler. Bowler's loss is about $50; Mrs Simonds was insured, the barn being covered by a $2000 policy on all the buildings. A horse and harness, with some grain and about half a bale of hay belonging to Grocer Smith were burned; loss $150. A horse and harness belonging to a Mr Wolcott of Wilmington were also in the barn and consumed, as was a bale of hay belonging to John Stafford. Mr Stafford's team was also kept there, but only a few moments before he had hitched it up and drove over to Esteyville.

The fire was probably incendiary, as nothing pointing to an accidental origin can be found. There are of course various stories afloat this morning. One is that Stafford was smoking when he hitched up his team but is spoiled by the fact that he doesn't smoke at all. Another is that a man was put in there to sober off, but it is denied by all the parties who are said to have had a hand in it.

The barn was usually kept locked, but as Mr Stafford expected to be gone but a short time, it happened to be left, unlocked last night, and some one seized the opportunity to slip in and set the fire. Teamsters Russell and Chadburn were near by at the time of the alarm, and they noticed and recognized a man, very drunk, whose pants below the knees were sprinkled with bits of straw, as if he had been kneeling down in a hay loft. Russell picked off the pieces of the straw and called Officer Williams' attention to it as a suspicious circumstance.

Brattleboro Reformer, September 16, 1886.

The Lovell Farr house still stands at the corner of Elliot and Elm Streets. The front porch originally had four fluted Ionic columns in the Greek Revival style.







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